Christianity

A Few Questions Directed Towards Calvinists

Here we would like to ask Calvinists some questions. If any are reading, feel free to answer them.

Question 1: How does God determine the elect? I understand that it is His sovereign will, but is it arbitrary? If not, then how and why not?

Question 2: Isn’t it unfair and unjust for God to create some human beings as totally depraved (despite them having free will, He purposely created them totally depraved) and then abandon them by not electing them and turning them into reprobates?

Question 3: Isn’t election and not Jesus dying for the sins of people the ultimate cause and foundation of salvation? If yes, then doesn’t that demote the importance of Jesus dying for our sins and shouldn’t the main message of the gospel be figuring out how to know you were elected?

Question 4: Could the elect in reality be thought of as having sought forgiveness? I ask this because it appears that they weren’t really doing any “seeking”, but were themselves sought out and chosen by God to be forgiven. Please comment.

Question 5: How would you respond to this Arminian argument:

Calvinism is built upon the premise that fallen man is “too far gone for even God to be able to reach him [thus necessitating an Irresistible Grace].” However, ask the Calvinist, “Is it simply too difficult for God to enable an unregenerate sinner to receive Him, without using an Irresistible Grace?” If Calvinists answer, “no,” then the Total Depravity argument becomes moot, and then it’s no longer a matter of man’s depravity, but man’s accountability, when enabled by God’s prevenient grace. However, most Calvinists reluctantly answer, “yes,” thus making God to be the one who has Total Inability, that is, the total inability to reach fallen man without resorting to an Irresistible Grace, and thus it is the Calvinist who is shown to be the one denigrating God’s power.

14 replies »

  1. Answers to question one are all in Romans chapter 9. God has not revealed more than this. Arminians would try and ground election in God’s foreknowledge.

    The premise of question 2 is not correct. God did not create anyone depraved. He foreordained that Adam would fall by his own free will. Adam was created by God without any sinful proclivity. He was created without sin in his intellect and volition. He had the power to choose to obey God but he chose not to.

    Question 3. Without the death of Jesus the purpose of election could not have been realised.

    Question 4. I would agree with your statement. Fallen man is dead and must be risen spiritually from the dead by the Holy Spirit. He must be born again as Jesus told Nicodemus.

    Question 5. The premise is self contradictory. If fallen man is “too far gone” for even God to reach him then he can not be saved by any kind of grace. It would be more accurate to say that fallen man is too far gone to reach God without God’s grace transforming and making him wllling to reach out or seek after God.

    It is strange to a Calvinist that irresistible grace should be equated with total inability. To the Calvinist it proves the absolute power and sovereignty of God in salvation. Anything less than irresistible grace would leave the question of salvation to the roll of the dice. God does not allow his redemptive purposes to be thwarted. Not one of the sheep will perish. It would be a joint effort between man and God with both sides taking some of the credit if grace only made it possible for man’s will to choose to believe but not making faih in God certain as irresistible grace does.

  2. What about predestination in Islam?

    Did Mohammed use predestination to explain the initial lack of converts in Mecca? It seems as he left Mecca he also left predestination behind with him and began to depend on more “man-made” means of persuasion. The concept remains useful for Muslims where they are too weak to enforce sharia law as a means of expaining their situation, otherwise it’s an ananachronism inside the context of a political struggle for power, as it was for Mohammed.

    Shows the absolute pragmatism of Islam. When a method works use it, when it doesn’t drop it. Affirm the truth of both even if they contradict each other: Men believe or disbelieve because Allah predestinates them; if they don’t believe we have ways and means, in Sharia, of “encouraging” them to believe.

  3. Why don’t you just knock my points down with the wisdom and the books that Allah has given you Paul? When it comes to discrediting Christianity you don’t seem to be so reticent Paul.

  4. Why does Allah punish disbelievers in this life if he is the one who has made them unable to believe?

    17:45 When you recite the Koran, We place an invisible barrier between you and the unbelievers. We place veils over their hearts and deafness in their ears so that they do not understand it, and when you mention only your Lord, Allah, in the Koran, they turn their backs and flee from the truth.”

    21:5 – 11 They say, “No This is nothing but jumbled dreams. He made it up………..Up to their time, despite Our warnings, not a single city that we destroyed believed. Will these people believe?………….We kept Our promise and We saved whom we pleased and destroyed the sinners. How many wicked cities have We destroyed and replaced with another people?”

    • Hello madmanna. Yes, the question which you have brought up is certainly one of the difficult ones. I would recommend the following book, if you read Arabic:

      Shifa’ al-‘alil fi masa’il al-qada’ wa al-qadr wa al-hikma wa al-ta’lil by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya. It is quite comprehensive and deals with such questions as the one raised.

      As for your assertions concerning the Prophets- salla Allahu ‘aleihi wa sallam- attitude towards qada’ and qadr, or companions’ understanding of it and attitude towards it after the Prophet, I do not find any justification for what you are asserting, nor have you provided any evidence for what you are saying. It is simply your opinion. We are not obliged to refute unsubstantiated opinions:

      In Sahih Muslim (Hadith nr 2664)

      Abu Bakr bin Abi Shayba and Ibn Numayr reported to us sayin; ‘Abd Allah bin Idris reported to us from Rabi’a bin ‘Uthman, from Muhammad bin Yahya bin Hibban, from Al-‘Araj, from Abu Hurayra who said: ‘The Messenger of Allah- salla Allahu ‘aleihi wa sallam- said:
      “The strong believer is better and more loved by Allah than the weak believer, but in both there is good. Pursue eagerly that which benefits you, and seek the help of Allah, and do not become incapacitated, but If something befalls you then do not say; ‘ If I only had done so or so it would have been so and so’, but say (instead); ‘this is the decree of Allah, and what He willed He has done’. For ‘if’ opens up (the door) for the action of Satan'”

      In Sahih al-Bukhari (hadith nr 5729) and sahih Muslim (nr 2219)

      ‘Abd Allah bin Yusuf reported to us ; ‘Malik reported to us from Ibn Shihab, from ‘Abd al- Hami bin ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Zayd bin al-khattab, from ‘Abd Allah bin ‘Abd Allah bin al-Harith bin Nawfal, from ‘Abd Allah bin ‘Abbas; that ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab- radiya Allahu ‘anhu- went (out) towards al-Sham (Greater Syria). when he came to al-Sargh (a city, very close to Yarmuk) the commanders of the troops met up with him; Abu ‘Ubayda bin al-Jarrah and his companions, and told him that the the plague had befallen the land of al-Sham. Ibn ‘Abbas said; so ‘Umar said; ‘call for me the muhajirin al-awwalin (the early emigrants, those who first emigrated to Madina), so he called for them and sook their council, and told the that the the plague had befallen the land of Al-sham, but they differed; some of them said; ‘ we have went out for a cause, and we do not think that we should back away from it, and some said; with you is the rest of the people, and the companions of the Prophet- salla Allahu ‘aleihi wa sallam-, and we do not think that you should send them forth towards this plague . So he (‘Umar) said ‘ depart from me’. Then he said; ‘call for me the ansar’ (the helpers, the muslims who were in Madina and recieved the emmigrants and helped them). So i called upon them, and he sook their council but they responded in the same manner as the ansar and differed amongst each-other, so he said ‘ depart from me’, then he said ‘call for me whoever is present here from amongst the shaykhs of Quraysh who emmigrated the year of al-fath (the conquest of Makka), so I called upon them, and not even two of them had a difference of opinion, and (so) they said; ‘we think that you should return with the people and not send them forth towards this plague’. ‘Umar called to the people; ‘I am turning back, so do the same’, but Abu ‘Ubayda bin al-Jarrah said; ‘should we flee from what Allah has preddestined?. So ‘Umar said; ‘Had it been anyone else except you who said this oh Abu ‘Ubayda!’, yes we flee from what Allah has predestined to what Allah has predestined. Tell me if you had a camel who went to to a valley which had two slopes, one of them is fertile and the other barren; is it not according to what Allah has predestined if you grazed it (in) the fertile (slope), and is it not according to what Allah has predestined if you grazed it (in) the barren (slope)?. Then ‘Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Awf , who had been absent due to attending to some needs,came forth and said ‘indeed I have knowledge concerning this (matter. I heard the Messenger of Allah- salla Allahu ‘aleihi wa sallam- say:
      “If you hear of a land (place) being struck by it then do not approach it, and if it befalls a land (place) which you are in then do not go out from it fleeing away from it”

      Some benefits from this:

      1. We should strive for that which is good and beneficial in every way, and never be incapacitated, but if we have done all we can, and something still goes wrong, we should not say ‘if I had done so or so’ ‘if I had went there at that time’ etc, etc. That is called ‘crying over spilled milk’ and is universally agreed upon being useless and a waste of time as far as I know. We accept that it was not meant to be and keep on working.

      2. Qadr is no excuse for making bad choices, making excuses by saying this is what is ‘predestined for me’. How do you know that?. If someone was to tell you that there are two roads leading to a place which you want to go to; one of them is filled with robbers, armed drugdealers etc, and another one which is filled with nice people who would not lay a finger on you, which road will you take?. I would guess nr 2 for sure. You will not take nr 1 and say this is qadr I’m certain.

      This is what I had for the moment. Unfortunately I do not have time to write anymore on this here. I apologise if I have been harsh or impolite. And please excuse me for bombing the blog with long posts again brother Paul, I said I would not, but I could not help myself.

      Take care
      Ibrahim

      • Jazak Allahu khayran brother Bassam!. I was hoping that you would turn up brother, bringing something already written.

      • Some short critcisms: 1) No where in your article is “free will” defined. Do you mean that men make choices, or men will to act? These no one denies. Do you mean that men’s wills are independent of God’s will? This we deny, and your article does not substantiate it.

        2) The verses you cite in support of your position DO NOT say what you are saying. That is, you have read into the text what is not there; for instance, all the “let whoever wills…” verses say absolutely nothing about man having the inherent ability to will anything apart from God. It is you who are assuming that if a man wills to believe, he himself is the ultimate cause of his believing because of his “free will”. In fact, 76:29-30 and 81:28-29 use the same phrasing, and completely contradict your interpretation; which brings me to my third criticism.

        3) You do not deal with any of the key texts which would refute the “free will” doctrine, such as the ones just quoted, as well as, 65:11 and 33:43 where it is unequivocaly stated that God takes “BELIEVERS” out of the darkeness and brings them into the light; where is man’s “free will” to take himself out of the darkeness?? What about 7:179 where it is extremely clear that God has CREATED many for hell? Where is God’s deference to man’s allegedly “free will”?? Many, many other verses could be brought to bear against your denial of God’s sovereignty; these are all unambiguous, and clearly teach absolute predestination.

        4) Your objections are based on a “straw man”. You assume that if God misguides people, he is “unjust”, for you state: “Allah is saying that He is not pleased with those who are thankless to Him. It would not make sense for God to misguide those people intentionally without giving them free will so that they can go and do what He does not like.” Your error is that you do not address the Quranic description of man, qua man, as being “in darkness, dumb, deaf, blind and dead”. Thus, man being without any righteousness, is under the JUST punishment of God, and it is only by His mercy that He condescends to take men out of this state (again see 65:11, 33:43).

        5) No one denies that God will judge men and reward them by their deeds; however, you gratutiously assume that this implies some sort of merit. On the contrary, God makes it clear that we should not consider ourselves “pure” (4:49, 53:32) which is ridiculous if in fact our deeds were, in and of themselves, meritorious before God. Therefore your statement: “So God judging them by what they earned shows that human beings have free will to do evil if they are judged to be evil and therefore it is no one’s fault but theirs.” is false, since the works of believers are NOT meritorious, but rather are gratuitously accepted and rewarded by God, there is no implication of “free will”. Moreover, the evil that men do, they do so willingly, though not independently of God, but see objection 1 on this point.

        6) No one ascribes the responsibility of man’s sin to God. Rather, God created Adam, not with a “free will”, but with a “trust”, which even the skies and mountains were fearfull of taking, (33:72-73). Adam’s violation of this trust resulted in him being called “unjust, heedless”. So that God now must bring punishment on all who do not trust/believe in Him (see the lam of purpose before yAAthibu Allah at 33:73). Or as another has posted, in this thread: Adam had the ability to choose between good/evil freely, that is without him being inclined to evil; yet his will was not somehow independent of God’s will.

        7) Yet, even if men had your “free will”, God is still “responsible”, because, as you say: “Allah is omniscient and therefore knows in advance what their FREE WILLED actions will be”. For, He knew prior to creating man, what their “free wills” would do and that some would be in hell eternally; thus, he could have chosen NOT to create. So you see, your “free will” doctrine cannot escape the same criticism.

        I will conclude this by saying, with all respect, that your article has not even begun to deal with the numerous verses that clearly deny any freedom of man’s will, apart from God’s will. In addition, you are highly dependant on importing ideas into your own “proof texts” which are nowhere to be found; so that from a simple statement, such as “let whoever will believe”, you have “deduced” a complete non sequitur; that is, your conclusion does not follow from your premise. Finally, you do not address the Quranic description of man, which would eliminate any strawman arguments about an “unjust/unfair” God who “intentionally misguides” people, who are at worst ” morally neutral”. To the contrary, man is zalum (unjust/evil/in darkness; 33:72) and God does not love “al zalimeena” (3:57) that’s why God must take believers out of zalum and bring them into the light (65:11, 33:43). These things all being done freely by God.

  5. Answer 1: The purpose of election is the glory of God. Therefore he chooses based not upon arbitrary pointing but upon his own good pleasure. I am sure you have done things that often appeared arbitrary to those who did not understand or know what you were doing, until the purpose was complete. Read Romans 9:18-23 for more on this.

    Answer 2: This commits what is known as the equal-ultimacy fallacy and is also covered in Romans 9:18-23.

    Answer 3: How do you know if you are elected? By looking to Christ. You must remember that we were chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world. God ordained that our election be by the means of Christ and him Crucified. The only way to be sure of our election is to repent and believe in Christ as our savior, and by faith look to him as the assurance of your calling. The only way to be elect is if Christ saved you, the only way to know is faith, which is a gift of God. How you know you’re elected, and how God knows you are elected are two different things.

    Answer 4: No, none of us were seeking God when he found us. John teaches us that we cannot even see the kingdom of God before we are born again from above. Paul tells us we were dead men whom God made alive in Christ Jesus. It is hard for a dead man to seek anything, but once made alive that man can repent and seek forgiveness.

    Answer 5: This comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of irresistible grace, probably brought about by the name of the tulip loving Dutch. Irresistible grace does not mean that it cannot be resisted but that it can overcome all resistances. Once we settle this we realize the absurdity of this question. Allow me to rephrase: ‘Is it simply too difficult for God to overcome an unregenerate sinner’s resistance to receive Him, without overcoming an unregenerate sinner’s resistance to receive Him?’ Proverbs 18:17

    Soli Deo Gloria

  6. You Christians don’t understand that he’s not asking questions, he’s attempting to knock down your faith.
    Slave of Allah, repent of your wickedness and turn to Christ that He may save you. Believe in Him and He will adopt you as a son.
    Repent not, and He will destroy you in fire for all eternity.

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